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The Weight of Nature: A workshop on climate change and mental health
November 3 @ 1:30 pm - 3:00 pmFree
For some of us, the scale of climate change can be almost too much to grasp. What does it mean to lose the world as we know it? How are we—as individuals—supposed to make a difference when the problem requires global action? Whom and what are we even allowed to grieve? In reflecting on the future, it’s easy to feel stuck, anxious, or powerless.
Which makes sense! A weary world is wearing on us, and as climate change forces the seas and ice and heat index to their extremes, the extremities reach back. We have words for these conditions: climate grief, ecoanxiety, environmental melancholia, pre-traumatic stress disorder—a whole new lexicon to describe the psychological and emotional troubles of relating to a rapidly degrading environment.
In this workshop, we’ll explore these psychological and emotional dimensions—and learn more about the surprising connections between climate change, environmental degradation, neuroscience, and mental health. We’ll think about how to better conceptualize the climate crisis, acknowledge and seek solidarity and foster resilience in our responses to it, and identify viable solutions for moving the conversation forward. Participants can expect to listen and learn from others, discuss and write through these intersections, and share out their own experiences where they feel comfortable.
Bring a notebook! This workshop will also include facilitated time for written reflection. No familiarity with climate change or mental health is necessary—if you’re just looking to learn, this workshop is for you.
About the Organizers
Clayton Aldern is a writer and data scientist interested in science and society. His essays and data journalism have been published by The Atlantic, The Economist, Scientific American, Logic, Sierra Magazine, Crosscut, UN Dispatch, and others; and his reporting has been syndicated or otherwise republished by The New Republic, Mother Jones, Vox, Newsweek, Moyers & Company, AlterNet, Fusion, CityLab, and Business Insider. He’s currently building out a data-journalism unit at the national environmental magazine Grist. Clayton also directs a data-science and machine-learning consultancy and serves as a research affiliate of the University of Washington’s Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology. He holds a master’s in neuroscience and a master’s in public policy from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes scholar.
Dr. Jennifer Atkinson is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Washington, Bothell, where she teaches courses on environmental humanities, ethics, and nature writing. Her recent seminar on “Eco-Grief & Climate Anxiety,” which explores the emotional toll of climate change and environmental loss, has been featured in The Washington Post, Seattle Times, NBC News, Grist, High Country News, Medium, and many other publications. Jennifer regularly collaborates with activists, psychologists, educators, and scientists beyond the university to provide resources on navigating the emotional terrain of our climate crisis. She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago in 2009, and has taught at the University of Washington for the past 10 years.
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